Tying the Howard Norton Special Steelhead and Salmon Fly Pattern – Ep 164 PF

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The Howard Norton Special is a fly from the popular series of Comet patterns. This Comet pattern was originated by Howard Norton of Sebastopol, CA. The fly was tied to be fished in the Russian River and gained popularity along the west coast steelhead corridor from California up to British Columbia. The fly is sometimes called an Orange Comet (silver body) or the Norton Special and has several variants that it is tied in. I did The fly is a proven producer for Pacific salmon and winter steelhead.

The Comet series arrived in the 1940s and featured a design of a long tail, stiff collar, and optional bead chain eyes. Bodies were made from tinsel, floss or chenille. The pattern was tied with orange polar bear but this material is quite hard to find and is protected under the CITES agreement. Bucktail is a great substitute for bear hair and still provides the desired action sub-surface. It is believed the Boss was the first in the series followed by the Howard Norton Special and many others. The flies sink quickly and offer a lot of action with their long tails.

Iā€™d like to thank Dean Endress for helping with information about the pattern.

Quick Spin Fly Tying Video for the Howard Norton Special

Howard Norton Special fly pattern recipe

Hook: Mustad S73UBLN or similar #
Thread: White 6/0 (140d)
Bead: Silver bead chain 3.2mm
Tag: Silver tinsel
Tail: Orange bucktail tied long
Ribbing: Silver oval tinsel
Body: Orange floss or chenille
Collar: Orange neck hackle

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2 thoughts on “Tying the Howard Norton Special Steelhead and Salmon Fly Pattern – Ep 164 PF”

  1. I have long been a fan of the general idea of this pattern and learned that appreciation from my steelhead mentor Frank Cammack in the mid 70’s. He and his fishing buddy probably hooked a good half of their steelhead all those years on the Boss with an Orange hackle up front. Since then I have had great success in BC with this pattern knowing I was one of very few using it and having great confidence in it. I do make the tail a lot shorter to preclude short strikes and I probably defy the history gods with putting two pieces of flash on top of the tail. Really nice videos and you are very inspiring with all these patterns. A big thanks

  2. Thanks for the message, Loren. I’ve tied it much shorter tails for that reason, but here have tied it longer based on some feedback from California anglers who like it longer. Great to hear about your experience with the pattern in BC, thanks for sharing.

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